Friday, November 10, 2006

Built to Spill – Warsaw – Brooklyn, New York – Oct. 3rd



Doug Martsch should be happier than he is. He should, at least, crack a smile. Here, in Brooklyn, on Tuesday, Built to Spill were more than “all business.” They were pissed.

Railing against established musical models (and sounds) since 1992, Built to Spill set up a framework for legions of independent bands like Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade, and Tapes n’ Tapes. At the Warsaw, a Polish community center-cum-hipster hotspot, they made it clear that they want to be in charge of their own destiny - so much so that Martsch doubled as the resident AV operator and, more than once, had to delay playing to change DVDs for the backdrop. And if they don’t want to fall under the influence of improper broadcasts, you can imagine what they have to say about the current U.S. administration. Martsch’s rambling political commentary culminated in an entire video diatribe about overreactions to eco-terrorism (with a live soundtrack to boot) and a cover of the Gladiators’ protest song “Rearrange.” Built to Spill doesn’t want to be told what to do.

And why should they? The formula works. You In Reverse, released in June, didn’t exactly follow on the heels of 2001’s Ancient Melodies of the Future. BTS took their time, skipping around between Seattle and their base in Boise. Against many predictions, they made one of the best albums of their career. Tracks like “Goin’ Against Your Mind,” “The Wait,” and “Conventional Wisdom” are as epic as Built to Spill will ever get (twenty minute covers of “Cortez the Killer” aside). And they’re even more epic live.

On “Wisdom,” Martsch hammered the last verses lyrics home for the sold-out crowd to hear and everybody knew who he was giving the finger to: “They don’t know they're wrong / But you know that they never can see that / That’s what makes them strong / That they know that we'll never see.” Then, the floating chord progressions dangled in a way more reminiscent of a jam band than the founding fathers of indie rock. It allowed for some time to consider just what these guys were getting at; the only real conclusion reached at the Warsaw that night was that they were crafting tight tunes.

The new tracks were the real standouts, even if they weren’t instant sing-alongs like “The Plan” just yet. Reflection on Built to Spill’s new potential didn’t last too long, though, as a more rowdy member of the audience threw a cup on stage and got the attention of Martsch: “Who threw that cup!?” Built to Spill were still pissed.

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